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Remarks of Amy L. Solomon, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, at the Fiscal Year 2023 President's Budget Rollout Stakeholder's Briefing

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

      Good morning.  Thank you all for joining us today.  I’m Amy Solomon, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs.  We’re here today to discuss the Fiscal Year 2023 President’s Budget for the grant-making components of the Department of Justice.

      I want to recognize and thank our speakers, who are joining us in the OJP ballroom:

          - Jolene Lauria, the DOJ Controller and Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Administration;
          - Allison Randall, Principal Deputy Director of the Office on Violence Against Women; and
          - Rob Chapman, Acting Director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

      I also want to recognize OJP’s Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Operations and Management, Maureen Henneberg, who joins us today, as well as the heads of OJP’s program offices:

          - Karhlton F. Moore, our new Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance;
          - Kris Rose, Director of the Office for Victims of Crime;
          - Doris James, Acting Director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics;
          - Jennifer Scherer, Acting Director of the National Institute of Justice;
          - Chyrl Jones, Acting Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and
          - Dawn Doran, Acting Director of the SMART Office (Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring,
          Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking).

      I also want to thank the budget staff from the Department’s Justice Management Division, the COPS Office, OVW and, of course, OJP—with a special shout-out to our new Chief Financial Officer, Rachel Johnson.

      This team has been working closely with each other and with the Office of Management and Budget over many hours, preparing a budget that reflects the priorities of the Administration.  Of course, they had help from staff across the Department’s program and business offices.  I’m grateful for all the hard work that everyone has put into this effort.

      I want to begin by underscoring that we have a President and an Attorney General who understand the critical role our state, local and tribal partners play in reducing crime, building strong communities and ensuring equal justice for all Americans.

      As President Biden has made clear, improving safety and advancing equity are not mutually exclusive.  In fact, the safety of our communities utterly depends on the fairness, and perceived legitimacy, of our systems of justice.

      This Administration has been working since day one to move the nation closer to achieving these twin goals.  His first day in office, the President issued an executive order saying that “affirmatively advancing equity, civil rights, racial justice, and equal opportunity is the responsibility of the whole of our Government.”  And during his recent visit to New York with the Attorney General, he said that “the first responsibility of government and our democracy” is “to keep each other safe.”

      What you’ll see in this budget is a redoubling of the President’s commitment, to both public safety and strategic justice reform.  I would also note that the investments we made last year and will continue to make this year represent a huge down payment on the strategies that the ’23 budget proposes to build on.

      We’re already sending substantial resources to communities to help reduce violence and recidivism, address racial inequities, serve victims and youth, support law enforcement, prevent and respond to domestic and sexual violence, promote alternatives to incarceration and apply science and data to our nation’s public safety practices.

      The themes you’ll hear articulated today echo and refine ideas and strategies we’ve already begun to set in motion, and they will push this work to a new level.

      The President’s budget requests over $6.2 billion to support OJP’s budget priorities:

          1.  Strengthening public safety, preventing gun violence and increasing community trust.
          2.  Advancing justice system reforms that promote not just community safety, but community
          well-being, and—critically—equity and justice for all.
          3.  Providing diversion and treatment options for people with behavioral health disorders and
          supporting successful reentry.
          4.  Helping communities and the justice system counter hate crimes.
          5.  Ensuring rights, access and equity for all victims.
          6.  And advancing innovation and the use of science, research and statistics to inform our work
          here at the Department and in the field.

      Now, as you all know, the President recently signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY 22, which certainly didn’t give us everything we’d hoped for, but does lay the groundwork for a number of efforts featured in the FY 23 budget.  I’m pleased to share that we have just posted the FY 22 program plan, which offers a preview of all of this year’s solicitations across all of the grantmaking offices.  It’s now available on the Main DOJ website and on all of the grantmaking divisions’ websites and should be a useful resource.

      For FY 23, we’re investing in a spectrum of new and existing programs that further OJP’s mission.  Of the total OJP budget, $3.4 billion supports discretionary program funding.  That’s over $2.5 billion for state and local law enforcement assistance; $760 million for juvenile justice; $96 million for research, evaluation and statistics; and $34.8 million for Public Safety Officers’ Benefits programs for disability and educational assistance.

      Approximately $2.8 billion supports OJP’s congressionally mandated programs, which, if enacted, are then funded automatically on an annual basis unless Congress intervenes:

          - Sixty-two percent of mandatory spending, or $1.75 billion, is requested for the Crime Victims Fund.
          - Thirty-one percent, or $884 million, is for a new Gun Violence Prevention Strategic Fund,
          which we will turn to in a moment.
          - And the remaining mandatory funding is for the death benefit portion of the Public Safety
          Officers’ Benefits Program, as well as the Domestic Trafficking Victims Fund.

      I’d like to highlight some of our priority programs.

      First, this budget makes good on the President’s commitment to strengthen public safety, address the impact of gun violence and improve community trust.

      The new Gun Crime Prevention Strategic Fund is a very substantial entry in the budget.  This fund will provide states and localities with comprehensive resources to invest in law enforcement and crime prevention.  This proposal is actually part of a broader request to provide $30 billion in mandatory resources to support law enforcement and prevent crime.  Additional details are forthcoming from the Administration about this important initiative.

      Next, $250 million is requested for the Community Violence Intervention program.  I’m thrilled that there is $50 million in the ‘22 budget to launch this effort.  This will enable us to make substantial investments in street outreach programs, group violence interventions, hospital-based violence intervention programs and other local efforts designed to prevent and reduce crime.  Our first solicitation will be released in the next few weeks, and the FY 23 request will help build and scale early investments in order to bolster the relatively thin net of existing resources for CVI programs.

      I’ll note here that the budget requests $50 million for a Victim Advocate Program, which would allow OVC to issue grants for highly trained victim advocates in communities experiencing rising levels of gun and violent crime.  This would be an important complement to the CVI request.

      The budget also requests over $533 million for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grants program, which is the primary source of flexible criminal justice funding for state, local and tribal jurisdictions.

          - Under this line item, Project Safe Neighborhoods gets a boost of $20 million, to $40 million.
          - In addition, $20 million in new funding will support training on addressing racial profiling and de-escalation.
          - And $10 million each is requested for Policing and Prosecution Innovation initiatives,
          which were not included—after many years—in the FY 22 enacted budget.

      Next, the budget furthers our work to advance reforms across the justice system, specifically to reduce incarceration, promote racial equity and expand access to justice.  Here are some of the highlights:

          - There’s $300 million for a new initiative, Accelerating Justice System Reform:
                * This effort will provide state, local and tribal governments with resources for
                reforms that promote equity, foster community trust and reduce disparate impacts on people of color and
                other historically disadvantaged communities.
                * This proposal would be supported with a total of $15 billion, with $300 million
                in discretionary resources in 2023, and then $14.7 billion in mandatory resources beginning in 2024.
                * This is part of the broader request to provide $30 billion in mandatory resources that I mentioned
                earlier.  And again, you’ll hear more detail about this from the Administration.
          - The budget also includes $35 million for the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, which has been a cornerstone
          of OJP’s reform work for many years now.
          - $25 million is requested for Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation, which supports data-driven,
          community-oriented crime reduction strategies.
          - I want to highlight the Family-Based Alternative Sentencing Program.  This is designed to provide
          diversion options for parents and promote family reunification.  The President’s budget requests $3.5 million.
          - And then we’re asking for $3 million to continue our support of the National Center on Restorative Justice.
          This approach can be so effective at increasing accountability and understanding of the harms caused by
          people’s actions and beginning the process of repair and healing for all parties involved.

      The budget also focuses on reform in the juvenile justice space.  Our goal here is to keep youth out of the system and to help them stay in school and remain connected to their families and communities whenever possible.

      One of the highlights is the Community-Based Alternatives to Youth Incarceration initiative, requested at $100 million.  The objective of this program is to incentivize jurisdictions to introduce reforms designed to reduce youth incarceration; grant funds can also be used to repurpose empty juvenile detention facilities in ways that benefit youth.

      There are also some familiar and essential programs, like our Part B Formula Grants program, which is a key source of funding for states seeking to implement comprehensive juvenile justice plans.  It also includes funding for youth mentoring, our missing and exploited children portfolio and OJJDP’s delinquency prevention program, all requested at substantial levels.

      We’re continuing to propose a big boost for youth indigent defense, at $40 million.  The President’s budget recognizes the importance of scaling up this work, a key component of Access to Justice strategies.

      A couple of new programs to highlight too:

          - We’re requesting $30 million for Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare Collaboration to help the field
          address the complex needs of dual-status youth.
          - And we’re requesting $15 million for a program called Eliminating Records-Related Barriers to Youth
          Success.  There’s a growing movement across the country to lower the bars to the sealing and expungement
          of criminal history records, and this new program will give a boost to those efforts.

      I will add that you’ll see in many of our FY 22 solicitations a priority consideration for applications that include projects that promote racial equity and the removal of barriers to access and opportunity for communities that have been historically underserved, marginalized and adversely affected by inequality.

      We are also giving priority in many solicitations to applicants that can demonstrate that their capabilities and competencies for implementing their proposed projects are enhanced because the applicant identifies as a culturally-specific organization.  More details about these equity considerations can be found in our solicitations.

      The budget also continues our substantial investments in promoting diversion and treatment for people with behavioral health disorders.  And just as important, it keeps up our heavy investments in reentry programs.

      We’re requesting a total of $418 million for the range of programs under the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act:

          - $190 million for our Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant and Substance Abuse Program;
          - $95 million to continue our investments in juvenile, adult and family drug courts;
          - $40 million for the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration, which includes relatively new
          efforts like Connect and Protect that helps law enforcement and behavioral health partners
          work together to reform crisis response;
          - CARA also includes $35 million for Residential Substance Abuse Treatment, $33 million for
          the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program; and $25 million for Veterans Treatment Courts.

      Another $10 million is requested for training to improve police-based responses to people with mental illness.  Taken together, these investments will boost the odds that people who have behavioral health disorders get the help and treatment they need in order to live productive and fulfilling lives as part of our communities.

      Our Second Chance Act programs have invested in hundreds of adult and youth reentry programs in almost every corner of the country.  We’ve come so far in this area over the last two decades, yet there is still much to learn and a challenge to scale up what works.

      Accordingly, the President requests a total of $125 million for Second Chance programs in FY23.  This includes site-based work as well as continued support for the National Reentry Resource Center.

      I will add that I am thrilled that we have recently brought on board two new Second Chance Fellows who are recognized reentry experts and have first-hand lived experience.  They will take on important reentry projects this year, and will help guide us in our reentry-related program and policy decisions.

      This Administration is also committed to address the growing threat of hate crimes.  We awarded close to $21 million in grants last year to combat hate crimes and support hate crime victims.  This budget invests $23 million, including:

          - $10 million to expand Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Grants.
          - $5 million for the Jabara Heyer NO HATE Act Program.  We are launching the program this year,
          and it will improve support for victims and enhance hate crime reporting, particularly through the
          National Incident-Based Reporting System.
          - There’s $5 million for a new Youth-Focused Hate Crime Prevention and Intervention Initiative.
          - And $3 million to continue support for the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Act Program
          to help solve cold cases.

      Identifying and promoting services for victims remains a top priority for OJP.  I’m particularly proud of some of the recent investments Kris and her team have made in advancing equity and reaching underserved populations, including thru the new National Center for Culturally Responsive Services and the Hospital-Based Victim Services Program.

      Turning to FY 23, the President’s budget requests $1.75 billion for victim programs supported by the Crime Victims Fund.  $1.6 billion is allocated to formula and discretionary grants that address victims compensation and victims assistance.  And it would continue the up-to-five-percent set-aside for tribal victim assistance.

      I want to acknowledge that this total is a decrease from enacted budgets over the last two years.  The reason for that is that we want to protect the balance of the fund over the long term so that it can serve victims over the long term.

      I should also note that even with a lower proposed cap, we anticipate more funding to the states for formula grants than in FY 21, and only a slight decrease from FY 22.  This is due to the removal of the OVW carve-out (which would now be funded by direct appropriations).

      The budget also includes $100 million for OVC’s human trafficking programs.  OVC is the largest federal funder of services to victims of human trafficking in the United States, and the budget will help us bolster those investments.

      Finally, this budget reflects a commitment on the part of the Administration to improving our knowledge and understanding of crime and justice issues through research and scientific innovation.

      We’ve been working at OJP over the last year to ground policy and program decisions in science and data wherever possible:

          - We’re bringing on scientists through fellowships and Intergovernmental Personnel Act assignments.
          - We’re engaging again with independent science and research bodies like the National Academy of
          Sciences and the Consortium of Social Science Associations.
          - And both BJS and NIJ are playing essential roles in the Administration’s work to promote scientific
          integrity and to implement the Evidence Act.

      The President’s budget will enable us to continue directing resources to these vital research and statistical activities.  This includes $51 million for NIJ and $45 million for BJS.

      Perhaps most importantly, this budget requests that 2.5 percent of OJP’s discretionary budget authority be set aside to support OJP’s research and statistical agenda.  This is an increase over previous years’ two-percent set-aside and would translate to $82.2 million for our science agencies.

      Together, the budget includes over $178 million for research, evaluation and statistics, which will build critical knowledge for the field and greatly inform our policy and program work here at the Department.

      These are the priorities laid out by the President for 2023.  We will post this presentation and more in-depth resources on our website shortly.

      In closing, with the resources this budget will allocate—and with the knowledge, expertise and commitment of our partners in the field—I am optimistic about the progress we’ll be able to achieve.

      We’ve got an incredible opportunity to work together, to reimagine public safety in our country in a way that keeps our communities safe and strong and that rebuilds the bonds of trust.

      Thank you.


Date Created: March 30, 2022